Will Shave Head for Links?

by Megan Slick February 20th, 2009 
Image Credit: Air New Zealand

Image Credit: Air New Zealand

Have you been racking your brain to develop an online marketing campaign to increase links and drive traffic to your website? You might want to consider paying people to shave their heads and tattoo your marketing message on their bald craniums. Think that's a little extreme? That's exactly what airnewzealand.com did. Air New Zealand commissioned 30 Californian “cranial billboards” to shave their heads and display ad copy for two weeks in November, they received either a round trip ticket to New Zealand or $777 in cash.

The publicity storm created a downpour of links the kind you'd give your arm and your leg for. The likes of the NYTimes, CNN, USA Today, BBC, etc… If you Google “cranium billboards” there are 11,300 webpages talking about Air New Zealand's campaign! I didn't check but I assume most of them are linking to airnewzealand.com.

The brilliance is that airnewzealand.com's campaign fit the message they were trying to get across. Shaving your head is a life changing event, going to New Zealand is a life changing event. Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand's Director of Marketing, The Americas said, “We thought this was a fun and innovative way to communicate the potential for a life-changing jour

ney down under. Given today's economic climate and dynamic upcoming election, we thought we'd remind Californians that there's a place they can visit where things are a little less complicated and change is more than what you hold in your wallet.”

This isn't the first time that airnewzealand.com has asked people to shave their heads. In New Zealand, around September the company ran a successful “cranium billboard” campaign to advertise the new simplified and speedier check-in process at Auckland domestic airport. Steve Bayliss, Air New Zealand's General Manager of Marketing said, “To be honest we've been amazed by the global interest in this activity.”

These campaigns were not created specifically for link building, but you can see the influence that the campaign had on links and traffic to the website. Most link building strategies I hear about are online-only endeavors. As you can see, link building doesn't have to be exclusively online. For relatively little resources airnewzealand.com created a link building campaignthat caught the attention of the world.

In these economically hard times, how can you use your cranium to build links, traffic, and buzz about your products and/or services? I am interested in seeing the travel industry (airlines, hotels, resorts, etc…) get creative! Does anyone have any crazy examples of publicity stunts that successfully built links to your website that you'd like to share?

SEO Copywriter Megan Slick

Megan Slick is a freelance SEO copywriter. If you would like to read more of my writing, check out my website.

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3 Responses to “Will Shave Head for Links?”

  1. I'm going to have to have a talk with my guidance counselor! No in all honesty that is amazing. I know a handful of people that would probably do this right now to pay their mortgage.

  2. Megan Slick says:

    @Nick Stamoulis I know, right! The information I found said that most of the Californians selected chose the free round-trip ticks to New Zealand. But most of them had a strong tie to New Zealand (ie they had been before or were ex-pats). Which was perfect because when people asked them about their cranium billboard they had a lot of great things to say about New Zealand!

  3. Megan, I think this story is great!

    Many companies spend a ton of money and time trying to put together a viral campaign to help their link popularity. This just proves that sometimes we need to take a look outside of the box!